RICHLAND, Wash. – EM Richland Operations Office (RL) and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) recently completed an important step toward moving radioactive capsules from a water-filled basin to safer, dry storage at the Hanford Site.
The recently completed design for modifications to the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility (WESF) includes installation of an additional ventilation system and upgrades to install equipment to transfer capsules to dry storage casks.
The changes are required before the 1,936 cesium and strontium capsules can be moved from the WESF basin, where they have been stored under water since the mid-1970s. Dry storage reduces the risk of a radioactive release in the unlikely loss of cooling water from the aging WESF facility.
“The design completion is a huge step toward transferring the capsules to safer interim storage,” said Gary Pyles, RL project manager. “I am encouraged by the progress on this critical risk-reduction effort.”
When the facility modifications are complete, the capsules will be placed in specially designed casks and transported to a nearby storage area.
“Completion of the modification design is a tremendous accomplishment and a reflection of our team’s focus and commitment to this important project,” said Kalli Shupe, CHPRC waste and fuels management project vice president. “We look forward to putting the design into reality to meet our goal of transferring the capsules into dry storage.”
The project will focus next on building a mock-up of the transfer system, designed to replicate conditions at WESF. The mock-up will allow workers to safely train and test equipment before performing the work at the facility.